Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe alleged in an article Thursday that he lost his job because of his outspoken public support of same-sex marriage.
The Vikings issued a statement Thursday, saying Kluwe's release in 2012 was based on his football performance, but the organization would review Kluwe's allegations.
Kluwe, writing for Deadspin in an article titled, "I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot," blames former coach Leslie Frazier, general manager Rick Spielman and special teams coach Mike Priefer. Kluwe also writes that he wants to make sure Priefer never gets another coaching job again.
"I honestly don't know if my activism was the reason I got fired," Kluwe writes. "However, I'm pretty confident it was."
Reached by ESPN.com, Kluwe said that he didn't approach the team, the NFL or the NFLPA about the comments at the time because doing so is "something that ends careers."
Kluwe said in the article that Priefer criticized the punter throughout the season for his support of same-sex marriage.
"I vehemently deny today's allegations made by Chris Kluwe," Priefer said. "I want to be clear that I do not tolerate discrimination of any type and am respectful of all individuals. I personally have gay family members who I love and support just as I do any family member.
"As a coach, I have always created an accepting environment for my players, including Chris, and have looked to support them both on and off the field. The comments today have not only attacked my character and insulted my professionalism, but they have also impacted my family. While my career focus is to be a great professional football coach, my number one priority has always been to be a protective husband and father to my wife and children."
Kluwe was released by the Vikings last May. He has yet to find another job.
The Vikings released a statement Thursday after Kluwe's accusations became a national story:
"The Minnesota Vikings were made aware of Chris Kluwe's allegations for the first time today. We take them very seriously and will thoroughly review this matter.
"As an organization, the Vikings consistently strive to create a supportive, respectful and accepting environment for all of our players, coaches and front office personnel. We do not tolerate discrimination at any level.
"The team has long respected our players' and associates' individual rights, and, as Chris specifically stated, Vikings ownership supports and promotes tolerance, including on the subject of marriage equality. Because he was identified with the Vikings, Chris was asked to be respectful while expressing his opinions. Team ownership and management also repeatedly emphasized to Chris that the Vikings would not impinge on his right to express his views.
"Any notion that Chris was released from our football team due to his stance on marriage equality is entirely inaccurate and inconsistent with team policy. Chris was released strictly based on his football performance.
"We will have further comment at the appropriate time."
Vikings players lined up to support Priefer.
Kicker Blair Walsh, who used to have Kluwe as his holder, issued a statement that read, "I have had countless conversations and interactions with coach Priefer, and I personally can attest to his integrity and character.
"His professionalism in the workplace is exemplary, and I firmly believe that my teammates would whole-heartedly agree. The allegations made today are reprehensible and totally not compatible with what Mike Priefer stands for."
Punter Jeff Locke posted on his Twitter account, "In my short time with the Vikings, Coach Priefer has treated me with respect and has helped me develop as a player and person. I have never witnessed any actions or statements by Coach Priefer similar to those described in the recent Deadspin article."
Fullback Jerome Felton wrote on Twitter, "Coach Mike Preifer (sic) has always been professional and one of the best special teams coaches I have been around! ... I have never witnessed him say anything close to what's been alleged. That's just my experience!"